The European Communities (Access to Information on the Environment) Regulations 2007 to 2014 (S.I. No. 133 of 2007, S.I. No. 662 of 2011 and S.I 615 of 2014) (hereafter referred to as the AIE Regulations), give legal rights to those seeking to access information on the environment from public authorities.
Under these regulations, information relating to the environment held by, or for, a public authority must be made available on request, subject to certain exceptions. The AIE regulations also oblige public authorities to be proactive in disseminating environmental information to the public.
The AIE Regulations provide a definition of environmental information; outline the manner in which requests for information may be submitted to public authorities and the manner in which public authorities are required to deal with requests e.g. timeframes for response. The regulations also provide for a formal appeals procedure in the event that a person is unhappy with a decision on their request. An unofficial consolidation of the regulations is available here.
What is the difference between AIE and Freedom to Information (FOI)?
The Access to Information on the Environment Regulations operate in parallel with the Freedom of Information Act 2014. While the two legislative codes are broadly similar (with respect to environmental information), the AIE Regulations and the FOI Acts differ in that a wider range of public authorities are covered by the AIE Regulations than by the FOI legislation. There are also material differences in the grounds under which access to information can be refused under the two legislative codes.
Is there a charge for getting information under the AIE Regulations?
There is no initial fee for making an application under the AIE Regulations. However, a public authority may charge a reasonable fee for supplying the information requested. This may include the costs of compiling, copying, printing or posting of information. Details of any fees relating to your request will be notified to you in writing.
How do I make an AIE request?
Applications for Access to Information on the Environment should be made to:
Freedom of Information Officer,
Sea Fisheries Protection Authority,
National Seafood Centre,
Tel: 023 8859300
Fax: 023 8859720
When making a request for information under the Access to Information on the Environment Regulations you are required to:
- State that the application is being made under the AIE Regulations
- Submit it in writing by post, email or fax
- Provide your contact details
- Specify the form and manner of access desired
Please use this Access to Information on the Environment Request Form
Normally you will be notified of the decision on your request within 1 month of its receipt. Where, due to the complexity or volume of information required, we are unable to respond within the one month timeframe, we are required to write to the applicant within the month, indicating when a response will issue. This date should not be more than two months from the receipt of the original request.
A written outcome of the review informing you of the decision, the reason for the decision and advising you of your right of appeal to the Commissioner for Environmental Information, including the time limits and fees associated with such an appeal, will be issued to you within one month of the date of receipt of the request.
How do I make an appeal to the Commissioner for Environmental Information?
A written appeal should be submitted to the Commissioner for Environmental Information at the:
Office of the Commissioner for Environmental Information,
18 Lower Leeson Street,
Telephone: 01- 6395689
Further contact details and information on the Commissioner's Office are contained on the Office of the Information Commissioner (OIC) website at www.oic.ie.
The AIE Regulations provide that a fee of €50 must be charged for an appeal to the Commissioner for Environmental Information. However, provision is also made for a reduced appeal fee of €15 for medical card holders and their dependents and also for people, not party to the original request for access to information, who are appealing a decision to release information which they believe will affect them.
Further information in relation to this regulation can be found on the Department of Environment, Community and Local Governments website.